Taking that extra step to fight tobacco consumption
Tobacco is one of the major causes of premature death. The use of tobacco results in various illnesses such as heart attack, cancer, and blood pressure, which increase the mortality rate. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has established an evidence-based basis for the implementation of tobacco control measures.
Since the enforcement of WHO FCTC, there have been a growing number of parties participating in the enactment of tobacco control rule. Tobacco use has reduced considerably in high-income countries. However, the majority of smokers are found in developing countries. Therefore, additional efforts are needed to accomplish the WHO objective of 30% decline in adult tobacco use worldwide.
There are over 20 million tobacco users in Bangladesh, five million of them women. This number also includes smokeless tobacco. Bangladesh is the 18th leading tobacco producer worldwide and fourth cigarette producer.
Most heavy smokers below the age of 40 are victims of heart attacks. Tobacco use has a lot of negative impacts, both in terms of health and economic development. As a result, the government has set some measures to control tobacco use in the country, which includes monitoring the promotion of tobacco-related products.
Research shows that a comprehensive ban on the advertisement of tobacco in all forms, including the direct and indirect form of advertisement, can lower tobacco consumption. Banning all forms of publicity can help reduce social desirability, especially among young people, towards tobacco usage.
The government has also enacted measures that help to control the advertisement of tobacco and its products in movies. When showing a movie containing scenes of tobacco consumption in the cinema, the film must be accompanied by a health warning.
Several amendments have been made on the Smoking and Tobacco Act 2005. The changes have helped create even better methods of regulating tobacco. According to the new amendment, no person is allowed to propose or give a sample of a tobacco-related product to the public, with the intention of enticing the members of the public to buy tobacco products.
The FCTC has also implemented several measures that can help regulate the demand for tobacco. Such measures include the introduction of price and tax control, measures to reduces contact with tobacco smoke and regulation to control its advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, among others. Members of FCTC acknowledge that the best method of controlling tobacco usage is through a complete prohibition on all forms of publicizing, campaign, and funding for tobacco.
International law demands that all the members of FCTC apply a complete ban against all forms of advertisement following the FCTC constitution and its principles. The ban also includes cross-border publicizing, promotion, and sponsorship originating within the member country borders.
Additionally, if a member country is unable to implement an all-inclusive sanction due to its constitutional principles, the party is obliged to apply some form of limitations to all tobacco advertisements.
To control and eliminate cross-border advertising, FCTC encourages its members to participate in the development of new technologies. Also, parties which have already implemented bans on some forms of tobacco advertisement have the right to impose a penalty on the cross-border advertisement. The party has the right to impose an equal penalty to those imposed on domestic advertisement originating from the country under the national law.
Both international measures and local measures can be applauded for taking an extra step in fighting against the consumption of tobacco and its products. However, for these measures to be upheld, the government agencies concerned must act responsibly and ensure that they impose the measures where required.
Sayed-Ul-Haque Dinar is an Advocate at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.